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team

The

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Tony Teravainen, USN (Ret.)

CEO & Co-Founder

A vocal advocate for the public support of our military community, Mr. Teravainen assumed his position as President and CEO in February 2014 after serving as a board chairman, director and volunteer since its 2012 formation.

As CEO, Tony oversees the positioning of STEP as a successful, trusted, and viable partner to our young military families and transitioning veterans. Under his guidance, STEP was created in Southern California, and is now serving families from across the country, as he works to fill STEP’s Vision 2032 with a national presence. STEP has positively impacted more than 250,000 military and veteran family members, including 7,800 families in financial crisis move to self-sufficiency through his financial counseling intervention and $2.6 million in grants – with a 90% effectiveness rate.

Being the son of a career Air Force father, and having his U.S. Navy submarine career abruptly ended with a medical condition, Tony knows firsthand the hardships young military families endure.

Mr. Teravainen left his consulting position at Booz Allen Hamilton to become STEP’s full-time CEO, where for five years he consulted on strategy and process improvement. Prior to that he spent seven years running his portfolio of small businesses, 12 years in manufacturing leadership at Sony Electronics, Inc., and eight years in the operations, repair and project management areas of the U.S. Navy’s Submarine Nuclear Power Program.

In addition to his serving as a Commissioner on San Diego’s Citizens Equal Opportunity Commission, he also serves on the San Diego North Business Chamber Economic Development & Advocacy Advisory Council, San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce Defense, Veteran and Military Committee, and sits as Past-Chairman of San Diego County’s Military & Veteran Advisory Council. Among his other community leadership positions, he has chaired the San Diego Coast Guard City Committee and is Adjunct Professor at the University of San Diego.

Mr. Teravainen holds undergraduate degrees in business management and nuclear engineering, a master’s degree in Executive Leadership from University of San Diego and ABD with his Ph.D. in Public Policy at Liberty University.

Tony has received multiple awards and recognition for his efforts to serve his community, including The Spirit of Hope Award from the Secretary of Defense, Nonprofit Executive of the Year, Veteran of the Year, Top 50 Influential Veteran Business Leaders, Top 500 Influential People, Top 50 COVID Leaders, and Veteran Nonprofit CEO of the Year. He holds professional licenses in Six Sigma, Project Management and Change Management, holds one U.S. patent, is a TEDx speaker, and frequent panelist discussing military and veteran policies and issues. Most recently, he led STEP to earn Nonprofit of the Year at the San Diego Business Journal’s Citizenship Awards.

Married to Jaclyn with two daughters and a son, Tony resides in the Highland Valley area of San Diego County where he enjoys ranching his livestock and tending to his orchards.

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Kathi Bradshaw

Vice President

As a social worker of many years, Kathi has helped people living in poverty, domestic violence, homelessness, delinquency, isolation, obesity, and other challenging situations move from their challenge to a brighter future.  Kathi's passion for engaging people in finding their strengths  and applying those strengths to achieving their goals is the heart of STEP's Emergency Financial Assistance program.  In partnership with the men and women who make American freedoms possible through their sacrifice on behalf of our nation, STEP is building financial well-being among these heroes.  When not at work, Kathi enjoys being with her family, including her two young children, traveling within the United States aquaponics gardening, and reading audiobooks.   

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Barb Fiorina

Development Manager

Barbara Fiorina is the Development Manager with Support the Enlisted Project. Barbara has more than twenty-five years of experience working for some of the most well-known nonprofits in the country, including American Red Cross, Meals on Wheels San Diego County, ECOLIFE Conservation, Epilepsy Society and Visting Nurses. Her core strength lies in building trust and loyal relationships with donors, corporate partners, volunteers, and staff. She has a sense of humor, enthusiastic attitude and is willing to take initiative and motivate others to the achieve a goal. Barbara has spent most of her career in San Diego but grew up in Illinois. "It is a pleasure and honor to join the team at STEP as we help build self-sufficiency for enlisted personnel and their families."

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Rachel Harman

Development Coordinator

Rachel is a military spouse with a background in PR. She is passionate about helping military and Veteran families. Recently, she moved to San Diego with her husband from the bay area.

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Selya Stice

Marketing Coordinator

Selya joined the STEP family in 2021 and is honored to partake in STEP’s mission to help military families like herself. As a military daughter, she understands and knows the financial hardships our young families endure. She is proud to be part of an organization that will always do what is right, honor patriotism and service our country, build relationships, respect others, and continue delivering results with excellence. During her free time, she enjoys being with her friends and family, working out, and binge watching Netflix.

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Jennifer Handy 

Institutional Giving Manager 

Jennifer Handy is the Institutional Giving Manager at Support the Enlisted Project and has worked in the nonprofit field for more than twenty years. After growing up in New England and graduating from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Jennifer moved cross-country and began her career at the University of San Diego working in the Office of Foundation Relations. She then moved to California State University San Marcos as the Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations, and next went on to Interfaith Community Services to serve as the Grants Manager. Jennifer has a passion for helping people, improving the lives of those around her, and nurturing the success of others both in her personal and professional life. As the daughter of a Navy Veteran and the sister of a Marine Veteran, she is honored to be part of the STEP team where she can give back to the military community. Jennifer enjoys spending time with her husband and two children, and explores San Diego from a “tourist” perspective, always looking to discover new places and enjoy new experiences. 

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Rena Rhine

Client Services Surpervisor

Rena is a US Navy Veteran, and came to San Diego in Spring 2019 as a military spouse of a US Navy service member.  As both a veteran and a spouse, Rena has experience and knowledge of the challenges of the military lifestyle, and how that impacts a family financially.  Rena uses her experience, knowledge and resources to assist service members and their families identify and achieve financial goals.  Rena holds a Bachelor of Social Work from Hawaii Pacific University and a Master of Social Work from THE Ohio State University.   

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Tracy Owens, USN (Ret.)

Programs Manager

As a 30-year Navy Veteran, who served in both the enlisted and officer ranks, Tracy understands and has seen the struggles young military families face first hand.  That is why she is so passionate about this organization.  Tracy has been in the San Diego area since 2008 and enjoys going to the beach, traveling and spending time with her family and friends.

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Kia Thompson

Programs Coordinator (Washington)

Kia is a true patriot and US Army Veteran. As an Army brat, Kia grew up immersed in the military lifestyle and always knew that she wanted to serve her country. And serve she did - she not only served in the Army, but she is also married to an active-duty soldier and has siblings that are currently serving in the armed forces as well.

 

Kia’s dedication to the military doesn't stop there - with nearly a decade of volunteer work in communities across the nation, Kia has demonstrated her commitment to service time and time again. She is passionate about serving our service members and their families, and she has seen the unique challenges our families face like frequent PCS moves and deployments. Kia joined our team because she is passionate about our mission and the opportunity to continue her service by supporting those who serve. 

 

In addition to her military background, Kia holds a bachelor's degree in Political Economy and Political Science from Evergreen State University. In her free time, Kia enjoys spending time with her husband, Ben, and their puppy, Romeo. 

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Sara Davis

Development Associate

Sara Davis joined STEP in 2022 as the Development Associate.  As a long-time Navy spouse with numerous moves all along the East Coast and a cross-country move to San Diego in 2018, she understands the difficulties facing our military families firsthand.  Sara holds a Bachelor’s degree in Communication from Eureka College (college home of Former President Ronald Reagan).  She is passionate about helping military families navigate the challenges of military life, both at work and in her spare time.  When she’s not at work, she can be found volunteering at her children’s school or for their various clubs and activities, riding roller coasters at various theme parks, or having movie nights at home. 

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Jessica Hankinson

Social Worker

Jessica came to STEP in March of 2022 and currently lives on Camp Pendleton in Oceanside. She is a busy Mom of 3 children and a Navy Spouse. Having spent the last 10 years raising her children while moving from place to place according to her husband’s orders, she brings firsthand experience of military life and the financial struggles to her role as Social Worker at STEP.

 

Jessica is passionate about helping others and channels that passion into her work helping military families meet their financial goals. In her free time, Jessica enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time with her friends and family.

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